Wireless Data Transmission
As cars become rolling WiFi hotspots, manufacturers have found some practical ways to use this technology. Wireless software updates correct running problems, improve fuel mileage and address other performance or safety issues. Sometimes, dealerships update software during regular vehicle service. In more important situations, such as an early 2014 problem with the anti-lock brakes in a couple million Toyotas, a recall ensures updates are completed in a timely manner. Tesla Motors made waves with its Model S electric car, which can be updated wirelessly from home, similar to a smartphone or a computer, and so far, it seems to be working pretty well. Of course, Tesla is also known for bucking the traditional dealership model, so the company doesn't need to worry about angry dealer franchisees -- if cars don't need to come in for recalls, there's less opportunity to upsell and get revenue, some dealers say. Security is also a concern, because anything that's wireless has the potential to be hacked or tampered with. It's no secret that the big, mainstream automakers aren't willing to take as many risks as Tesla, but if the wireless data transmission strategy proves to be reliable, it may soon become a lot more common.